Top 5 Careers for Engineers to Transition Into

Whether you start out in mechanical engineering, chemical engineering, engineering management, or in civil engineering, a career change may be in the cards for you. The employment landscape of today rewards engineering graduates with the courage and perseverance to forge a career path that applies old skills to new challenges and opportunities.

Career Transition Ideas for Engineers

The fundamental skills of an engineer such as strong numeracy, problem-solving, and logical thinking are desirable characteristics for:

  • Research and Development
  • Patent Agent or Attorneys
  • Business Leaders
  • Software Specialists/Product Management
  • Teachers

We’ll get into each of these career possibilities here …

1. Research and Development

There are some alternative careers already in the industry of your expertise. Large engineering employers often run programs that focus on research and development. The focus changes from generality to understanding technical and scientific research.

If you’d like to get into a career in research and development, you’ll want to develop expertise in a specific area such as chemistry or physics. By studying the most current research on a particular topic, identify the employer’s conception of value, and build routines around the observation.

The change in perspective requires flexibility. Gain the trust of those with whom you work by acknowledging your weaknesses and asking for help in being brought up to speed. Demonstrate a willingness to learn and put forth the effort.

2. Patent Agent or Attorney

The patent bar is open to engineers hoping to practice as a patent attorney or agent. Once a qualified engineer takes and passes the patent bar exam, he or she will become a registered patent agent (even without attending law school). Patent attorneys and agents write and prosecute applications for patents at universities, corporations, law firms, or practices of their own.

There are many free resources to help in the Bar Exam preparation on this site. The interested engineer can explore a career in patent law through free interviews with patent professionals, a career assessment, and online video courses.

3. Business Leader

One-third of the S&P 500 CEOs in 2014 had an undergraduate degree in engineering. A close look at business and engineering reveals that the two specializations require some overlapping skills.

Both business leaders and engineers want things to run efficiently. They look to innovative and creative solutions while remaining rooted in the realm of possibilities. The knowledge and skills obtained in the study of engineering transfer remarkably well to business careers.

These skills include:

  • Effective problem-solving, time management, and project planning
  • Attention to detail
  • Good communication and teamwork
  • Experience in data processing and numeracy
  • A high level of technical knowledge and computer skills

These skills are part of the reason there is a growing dominance of engineers in the business leaders of the world. Business leaders typically earn slightly more than engineers and often prefer the business sector working conditions.

4. Software Specialist/Product Management

Software industry hiring managers are looking for engineers for product management jobs. There are sometimes unrealistic expectations. It is best that engineers, transitioning to software product managers first act as the technical program manager, customer support in a startup, sales engineer, or project manager.

First, product manager jobs are usually a stepping stone to the ultimate career goal. Someone with the time and money benefits from earning an MBA from a business school. While studying, you can create a network of extraordinary individuals, get a view of the global business world, and get a different perspective on problems and develop communication skills.

An alternative would be signing up for immersive classes that last from six to 24 weeks. They cover topics that will aid in getting that dream job. Software engineers believe programming skills guarantee a product manager job. They emphasize their technical background on resumes and during interviews. The talent that wins the position shows interest in other industry areas and demonstrates a diverse knowledge.

5. Teaching

What first attracts many people to engineering is the application of science and the use of problem-solving skills. The knowledge of these processes can be used to train others and turn young scientists into engineers.

Teaching engineering related subjects allows a person to look at creative engineering aspects and help students develop problem-solving skills. The engineer can provide real-world examples from course study and time spent as an engineer.

Scientific and technical concepts are brought to life. Requirements include experience with children, an enthusiasm for the subject, and excellent communication. Other similar jobs put an engineering background to use as a higher education lecturer who specializes in a particular area.

Make Sure You Know What You Want

Each organization hires former engineers based on a set of factors pertinent to the new field. Engineers who succeed in the endeavor have skills in a specific area that makes them stand out from other candidates.

In addition to skills, you will want to make sure the new career offers many possible advantages in comparison to your old career. Advantages might include the following:

  • A higher salary
  • To be creative
  • To help others
  • To do something sociable
  • To work on cutting-edge projects
  • To build or make things
  • To travel

It’s important to know what motivates you before you take the next leap and make sure the profession includes at least most of what you want.



12 Costly Mistakes To Avoid After College

After graduation, many students experience some post-graduation consequences that are not much fun. The majority of 2016 college graduates found themselves approximately $37,000 in student loan debt and the average is growing. In addition, many college graduates have debt in other forms like; car loans and credit card debt. This is a list of common mistakes that can be very costly and should be avoided—or you could end up paying for it for years.

1. Deferring Student Loans

Temporarily stopping repayments for a student loan like the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) repayments may seem like a short-term solution. In reality, the longer a loan is deferred, the deeper in debt you become. The interest rate on some loans even increases.

2. Not Using A Grace Period

Taking advantage of a grace period is not the same as deferring payments. Lenders often grant a grace period for college graduates to begin repaying a loan. The grace period is typically six months. Do not ignore the payment that you will eventually be making. Instead, put the amount of the monthly payment into a savings account.

When loan payments begin, you will have an emergency fund in the bank and be in the habit of making the payment. The grace period gives you time to figure out a plan of attack for paying off loans. If making payments is going to be burdensome, you have time to explore other options. There are sometimes income-based repayment options available.

Failing to have a game plan for student loans is a mistake. If the debt is not handled correctly, it can severely impact your financial future. Determine what you owe and the interest rate on each loan. Extra payments on high-interest loans can save a lot of money. A loan payment made by automatic debit may qualify for a slight reduction in the interest rate that can save hundreds of dollars over the term of the loan.

3. Not Asking For Loan Forgiveness

Some student loans qualify for forgiveness. Student loan forgiveness is an opportunity to have loans entirely or partially forgiven. Loan forgiveness may be granted in exchange for:

  • Volunteering
  • Choosing a job in a specific location or field
  • Military service
  • Moving to a certain location

4. Paying Too Much Rent

Rent should be no more than 30 percent of your monthly income. Finding suitable housing can be a challenge because income and job opportunities seem stagnant while rent is continually increasing. This dilemma is the reason so many college graduates move back home with parents until they are more financially stable.

5. No Budget

Budgeting can be a daunting task. Start by tracking where you spend your money. Your expenses should include things like gas, groceries, and utilities. When you have a handle on expenses, budgeting and adjustments become easier.

Only about 30 percent of Americans actually budget. Budgeting can be difficult when there is little money to work with.

Landing a job can cause the temptation to indulge in things not feasible during college or spend money whenever you want, on whatever you want. But, purchasing extravagant items can start an endless spending cycle. Stick to the necessities. Save the money you would spend on wants rather than needs to use for a vacation, paying off student loans, or a down payment on a car.

Budgets help you stay on track financially. They can help you:

  • Pay down debt
  • Keep from making unnecessary purchases
  • Start growing a savings account

6. College Lifestyle

Keeping late hours is not only expensive but affects your ability to perform the next day. After college, the focus should be on jump-starting a career.

Travel is often an after college goal that can affect the money you have available. College graduates have to realize that adult decisions have to be made. If bitten by the travel bug, do not go deeper into debt. Substitute saving money by going on a road trip for buying a pricey airplane ticket.

7. Not Saving Or Contributing To A Retirement Fund

Put something in savings every month. Your employer can make an automatic deposit from your paycheck if disciplining yourself to do so is difficult. If your employer has a 401(k) plan, take advantage of it. Many employers who offer a 401(k) plan match a portion of the contribution. That is free money.

8. Limits Placed On Job Searches

Refusing to accept or apply for a job that does not fit your passion or degree is a mistake. Limiting a job search also limits growth and income opportunity. There is definitely a correlation between the length of time spent waiting for a dream job and a dwindling bank account.

9. Meeting 100% of the Job Description

One of the most significant job search challenges is the job description. It’s likely that some listed qualifications can be taken with a grain of salt. The description is a wish list for hiring managers looking for the ideal candidate. Don’t apply for a job that is entirely out of your league, but meeting all the criteria is not necessary when applying for a job.

10. Poor Resume

Ninety-percent of large companies use Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) software to scan resumes for keywords included in a job description. Resumes without keyword matches are automatically and immediately tossed from the pool of applicants. That means no one in charge of hiring sees them.

Make sure your resume is tailored to the job for which you are applying. Identify the keywords and phrases in the job description and include them in your resume.

11. Focus On Lack Of Experience

Hiring managers are aware that an applicant is a recent graduate. If you reach the interview stage, questions about your lack of experience can be expected. Do not apologize. It is a waste of time and makes you appear weak.

Go into an interview ready to let a potential employer know what you have to offer. Spend time before the meeting thinking about polished, high-energy, and inquisitive responses to questions about your lack of experience. Being inquisitive makes you stand out from other candidates.

Show the interviewer that you came because you are curious and want to learn. Being able to engage and participate in a conversation is likely what the hiring manager is looking for. Don’t discount work done in school, as an intern, or as a volunteer. You may have done some work in a solo or team setting that is related. Treat that assignment as relevant work experience.

12. Not Having Health Insurance

Health insurance is one of those things that college graduates are forced to think about and have to deal with. If an employer does not offer health insurance, you have to be covered under your parent’s’ policy or enroll in a plan of your own.

The Affordable Care Act mandates insurance companies to extend the coverage of adult children until they are 26 years old. It is wise for parents to contact their insurance provider to ensure you are covered. The average cost of a hospital stay is a little over $33,000. The number one reason people in America file bankruptcy is due to medical debt.

It is an unexpected expense that can be financially devastating. Saving what you can, where you can, and being willing to start at the bottom of the food chain are the things that will pay off in the long run. Be your own best advocate. Make wise choices that will impact your future and you’ll be assured a brighter future.

Feeling Scared for Your First Patent Practitioner Job Interview? If So, Review These Tips

Why do job candidates get nervous during an interview? Dr. Tamar Chansky, the author of Freeing Yourself from Anxiety, believes the brain cannot distinguish between high stake situations such as a job interview and being under the threat of attack.

The body gears up to fight or run for your life. Those uncomfortable and inconvenient reactions make sense if you are indeed being threatened with assault. For a job interview with your potential employer, especially an in-person interview, you need to be collected, cool, and calm.

Here are some tips to calm your nerves. Getting a job you really want impacts your general happiness and self-worth. The battle that goes on in the mind is the result of landing the job or not.

Getting the job means having the ability to pay bills, save money, get health insurance and be involved in an activity that interests you. Not getting the job weakens your financial position and lowers your self-worth.

Though it is fine to show your strengths and weaknesses, nervousness is the result of internal conflict. Lack of preparation for an in-person interview with your potential employer is a common culprit that also makes interviewees nervous. In most cases, the more time spent in preparation, the more confident you will be during a job interview.

Specific Preparation Activities

Those who do their research can articulate the qualifications and skills they have that align with the position. For instance, a patent agent or patent attorney should have an interest in law, registration as a patent practitioner, and a degree in an engineering or science subject — otherwise receiving a job offer is unlikely.

Let the interviewer know about the degrees you hold, your registry status, and any other qualifications you possess. Match career accomplishments with what the company is seeking. Do not embellish facts on a resume. The more truthful the information is, the easier it is to discuss past experiences.

Writing patent drafts entails writing invention descriptions in precise legal terms. This is one of the main duties of a patent attorney or patent agent. Other duties include:

  • Preparing responses to patent examiner reports.
  • Ensuring that deadlines for applications and renewals are met.
  • Conducting proceeding litigations.
  • Keeping up to date with intellectual property legal developments.

Make sure to showcase any experience in those areas. Highlight any writing, speaking, and research skills that you possess. See these as opportunities to sell yourself.

The keys to an effective interview are:

  • Confidence projection
  • Staying positive
  • Sharing examples of workplace qualifications and skills

Speak concisely and clearly about the assets you can offer an employer. Brush up on communication skills. Advanced preparation allows you to showcase the skills that tell the interviewer you are an ideal candidate for the position.

Do Your Research

A frequent question that candidates are asked is what they know about the company. When answering questions, interject what you know about the organization. The ‘About Us’ section of a company’s website is a good place to start. The company’s Facebook and LinkedIn pages are also resources worth reading before you go to your interview.

Be prepared to use the interviewer’s name while in the interview. If you are uncertain, make a call before the meeting and inquire who will conduct the questioning. Making a personal connection and building rapport increase the chances of getting the job.

Do Not Put Off Getting Ready until the Last Minute

Have a suitable outfit for an interview chosen, cleaned, and pressed to eliminate worry about what to wear, even if given a short notice to interview. The outfit should be appropriate for a law firm, which means it should be professional, neat, and tidy.

Prepare for an interview the night before. Find a pen and notepad to take along and print extra resume copies for a portfolio. Arrive ten to fifteen minutes early for the interview. If necessary, drive to the interview location in advance so you know exactly where the meeting will be held and how long it will take to get there.

Running late suggests that you have poor time management skills. It is a sign of disrespect to the interviewer, the position, and the firm so be sure you are not late. Visit the restroom, calm your nerves, and check your attire in those few minutes before the interview.

Presenting Yourself

Be well-rested and alert in preparation for the interview. Missing questions or getting distracted have an adverse effect on the interview process. Make an engaged effort to pay attention if you feel your focus drifting.

Body language often says more than the spoken word. Being properly prepared allows confidence to exude. Lean forward when addressing the interviewer. Maintain eye contact. Listen to the entire question before you answer.

Take a few seconds to regroup before responding. Use what you learned in researching the company to answer questions. Keep answers focused, to-the-point, and succinct. Point out that you are aware of some aspects of the firm and how your qualifications are an asset that matches the company’s mission.

Be familiar with the information on your resume.  Know when you worked for each employer on the list. Also, have graduation dates and contact information memorized or readily available. Sometimes, interviewees are asked to fill out an application even though they submitted a resume.

Always write a thank-you as a follow-up to the interview. Reiterate your interest in the job. Include any details that may not have been presented in the interview. If the interview was conducted by more than one person, send each individual a thank-you message. Send thank you notes within 24 hours of the meeting. Emails are acceptable thank-you note formats.

Common Interview Mistakes

Do not take soda or coffee to the interview. It is unprofessional and distracting from the task at hand which is to make a good impression. Silence your cell phone. Texting during an interview is disruptive and rude. Do not make or answer calls during an interview.

The interviewer does not need to know your whole life story. Your children, spouse, or personal life are topics not to be discussed in an interview. When discussing past employment, do not put former bosses down. Prospective employers tend to side with the previous or current employer.

It’s a lot to take in, but it’s important to do your research and spend time preparing for the interview. Remember how to appropriately present yourself, act with the polite social skills, and the chances of landing the position are in your favor.



5 Patent Law Associations You Should Consider Joining

Joining a patent law association allows members to stay at the forefront of intellectual property law. The members are made up of a diverse group of lawyers and other professionals in corporate and private practice, the academic community, law school, and government services.

There are individuals from institutions, companies, and law firms who are directly and indirectly involved in unfair competition law, trade secret, copyright law, and other law fields that impact intellectual law.

The associations serve their members, work to improve the legal profession, eliminate bias, enhance diversity, and advance the rule of law in the U.S. and globally. Associations support the legal profession by providing practical resources that improve the administration of justice, law school accreditation, and ethical codes.

American Intellectual Property Law Association

People join AIPLA to stay abreast of intellectual property policies, laws, and standards developments. The association helps in networking with colleagues and career advancement. AIPLA offers several categories of membership for IP practitioners.

Solo practitioners are included. The regular membership comprises bar members in good standing of a court of record of the United States, Territory or State, District of Columbia, or the United States Patent and Trademark Office for at least five years.

They must be eligible to hold office and vote. Small firm and solo practitioners receive a reduced membership fee. Those with less than five years of good standing referred to as junior members; associates; academic; and life categories have reduced rates.

The annual dues for each category (from 2018) are as follows (note that these may change, consult the official AIPLA site for further details):

Regular $395
Solo $375
Junior $189
Associate $90
Government $90
Academic No Fee
Life No Fee

The National Association of Patent Practitioners

NAPP, a nonprofit organization, is dedicated to its support of patent practitioners and others who work in the field of patent law in matters that relate to patent prosecution and practice. The mission is to provide a collective voice, benefits, collegial exchange, education, and networking in the IP community concerning patent law and prosecution.

NAPP has three membership categories. The practitioner membership is for patent attorneys and patent agents in good standing and registered before the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Reduced annual fees are offered to students and associates.

The Annual NAPP Dues (from 2018; consult the official NAPP site for updated dues):

Practitioner $200
Student $50
Associate $175

International Intellectual Property Law Association

IIPA provides a platform for bringing everyone who deals with IP and its global challenges together. Offline and online international events have organized that focus on IP community members cooperation and IP education.

The organization helps international institutions, policymakers, and individuals understand the IP industry cooperative model. It helps to bridge the IP fraternity and unify the global IP laws. IIPLA fosters uniform research and development opportunities through worldwide cooperation and awareness.

The association provides members with incredibly enduring contracts, excellent financial opportunities, exciting career options, best IP practice, and the latest IP trends. The organization offers memberships that can be paid annually or monthly. Regular membership is extended to global lawyers/attorneys and agents registered to practice before the worldwide Patent and Trademark Office or registered in a worldwide bar.

Membership Fees (as of 2018; consult the official IIPA site for an updated fee schedule):

Membership Annually Monthly
Regular $600 $60
IP Affiliate $450 $45
Government $99
PTO (full-time patent examiner or other professional national patent and trademark office employee $99
Judicial $75
Student $25
Group (up to 10) $2900
Group (up to 20) $4900
Group (up to 100) $9900

The American Bar Association Section of Intellectual Property Law 

Belonging to the ABA-IPL entitles members to a free eBook, CAREERS IN IP LAW and a magazine subscription to Landslide. Members have the opportunity to substantive committees and are involved at the level of their choice.

Action groups, open to immediate involvement include:

  • Women in IP Law (WIP)
  • Law Students (LSAG)
  • International (IAG)
  • Diversity (DAG)
  • Young Lawyer (YLAG)

Other benefits include:

  • Legislative updates
  • Continuing legal education opportunities
  • Intellectual property law conference
  • Discounts on books of IP topics and solutions
  • eNews about the latest activities, initiatives, and projects

Membership dues are tiered according to the bar admission date. To join the ABA-IPL, the person must be a member of the American Bar Association. The dues for regular and special membership are free for those admitted to the bar in 2017 or 2018.

Special dues are available for legal/public service or government lawyers, judges, and private practice solo lawyers. There is an additional fee for the Intellectual Property Section.

Association of Intellectual Property Firms

AIPF is an international group of independent specialty firms devoted to the practice of copyright, trademark, and patent law. The association is dedicated to needs unique to the IP boutique.

Clients are better served because of the forum of international collaboration and resources the organization provides. Member firms and attorneys receive help in improving all levels of business management skills and understanding the business and needs of their clients.

Members develop relationships with the worldwide legal academic community to enhance recruiting initiatives and demonstrate legal and technical capabilities. They engage with leaders from industries and businesses around the world.

To be eligible for membership 50 percent of the attorneys at a firm must be registered to practice before the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office or the home country Patent and Trademark Office. The majority of the firm’s business must be devoted to the practice of Intellectual Property Law. Annual dues are based on the number of participating attorneys in the firm.

The following is the fee schedule (please consult the official AIPF site for updated fees):

Number  of Attorneys Dues
Solo – Three $300
Four – Seven $600
Eight – 15 $1500
16–25 $2500
26–35 $3500
36–50 $3500
51–100 $5000
100+ $6000

Patent law associations are voluntary bar associations. The purpose of these organizations is to maintain high standards of ethics and aid in improving laws about intellectual property. Membership dues vary from association to association. With a variety of options, finding a patent association that fits your budget is feasible.


Quick Guide to Law School Financial Aid

A legal education is both an investment in a student’s future and a financial investment. Like all investments, before you apply for any student aid, considering the pros and cons of a massive expenditure of money, time, and effort is essential. A realistic assessment of the reasons to pursue a legal education and how to pay for it is crucial.

The best source of legal education financial aid information is the website or financial aid office of a LSAC-member law school. has several good financial aid information sources and links to numerous law schools and need-based financial aid. The cost of law school (which is typically 3 years) can exceed $150,000.

The yearly tuition ranges from several thousand dollars to more than $50,000. The total cost of law school attendance includes transportation, housing, food, books, and personal expenses. Law schools establish a ‘Cost of Attendance’ that provides for allowances for living expenses and fixed costs of fees and tuition.

That Cost of Attendance is the maximum financial aid available from any source. Education loans are the primary—but not the exclusive—source of financial assistance for the majority of law school students.

Student Loans

Loans are repaid with future income. The more money that is borrowed, the longer the debt impacts life after graduation. Federal student loans offer the most flexible payment options. Those options include Income-Driven Repayment (IDR) plans.

IDR plans offer monthly payments that are less than ten percent of the monthly household

Adjusted Gross Income (AGI). There are more payment relief opportunities available from federal loans than those offered by institutional or private source loans.

Institutional and private loan sources are typically used by students ineligible for federal student loans. The school’s financial aid staff determines the types and amount of loan funding a student is eligible to receive based on the school’s cost of attendance, institutional policies, and federal regulations.

Guidelines for borrowing law school loans include:

  • Borrowing the minimum needed.
  • Seeking federal loans first.
  • Avoiding loans from private sources unless ineligible for federal student loans.

Other Sources Of Funding

There are limited fellowships, grants, and scholarships available. Some students in their second and third year of law school are offered part-time Federal Work-Study Program employment. There is an ABA-mandate that limits the number of hours that full-time law students can work. First-year students are expected to concentrate fully on schoolwork.

Rules and regulations are continually changing and law school policies vary. The student must stay current about financial aid. The research is similar to that done when deciding to which law school to apply. All professional and graduate school students are thought to be financially independent of parents for determining federal aid eligibility.

Submitting parental information is not a requirement. Law schools may require financial information of parents for institutional scholarships and grants. Students need to be aware of specific procedures and policies regarding independent status for institutional funds allocations. The guidelines vary from school to school. Students should investigate the guidelines for all schools they have an interest in attending.

Negotiating Law School Financial Aid

Loan forgiveness programs are becoming more and more popular. Law schools ask students to take out loans that will finance most of the legal education. After graduation, schools look at what a student is earning. The schools repay all or part of tuition debt for students earning below a certain threshold. What that means is, those who are looking for significant need-based financial aid for law school will likely be unsuccessful.

Those individuals should focus on merit-based awards to earn financial grants used to defray the high cost of legal education. Anyone who enters law school with financial need and does not secure a merit-based award will be strapped with loans. Institutions facilitate federal loans such as Perkins and Stafford loans. If a student’s financial need exceeds the federal limit, students take out private loans from either a lender of choice or the school’s preferred lender.

This route means after graduating law school; a student has significant debt. Those taking a public sector or public interest job traditionally earn a low salary. In that situation, law schools will probably repay at least part of the loans for the next ten to 15 years. That repayment is subject to the law school forgiveness program details and the continued financial need for that ten- or 15-year period.

Those hired by top law firms, with a starting salary of $160,000, will not receive help in repaying loans, even if the student was in significant financial need when entering law school. Planning is critically important. Students need to know what funds are available before and after graduation.

Merit-Based Aid

Securing need-based aid early in law school is becoming less and less of a viable option. Paying back loans can be minimized by focusing on merit-based aid therefore, you should apply to schools with a reputation for offering significant merit-based assistance.

The negotiating process is delicate. The student must be careful in communicating with law schools about merit-based offers. The right approach can save five and six-figure amounts in interest and tuition. Getting a $10,000 grant or $10,000 to $30,000 off tuition makes a monumental difference in the cost of law school, even over a repayment period of ten or 15 years. It’s well worth spending the time to find grants like these and save later on.

Complete Guide to a Career as a Patent Examiner

As long as people have good ideas, the need for patent professionals will exist. The field of patent law is fast-paced. With patent law, there are choices of practice types. The landscape for technical specialists, agents, and patent attorneys has changed considerably over the last two decades.

Hiring practices has also changed over the last decade or so. The job market, across the board, is excellent. Law firms need people who are experts in computer software, chemical processes, electronics, and biological/bioengineering.

Opportunities are available for scientists from any discipline. It is commonplace for employers to hire Ph.D.’s in biotech patent law. A patent agent is licensed to prepare and process patents. The career does not require a law degree.

Prosecutors write and process applications for patents that are submitted to the Patent and Trademark Office that grants patents. Administrative judges for the United States Patent and Trademark Office handle patent disputes.

There are many factors to consider when pursuing a career in patent law. They include where you want to work or live and the skills you have to offer an employer. If your calling is patent law, decisions about going to law school or diving right in as a technical specialist or patent agent have to be made. Whatever the choice, patent professionals have a bright future.

Role of a Patent Examiner

A patent examiner has two duties: issue valid patents and to act as the public’s advocate. When issuing valid patents, the examiner helps applicants identify allowable subject matter. Patent examiners make appropriate objections and reasonable rejections.

As the public’s advocate, the examiner ensures the file wrapper record is clear and complete. Prosecution before the Patent and Trademark Office is not meant to be adversarial. Patent examiners conduct a cooperative investigation between the applicant and examiner that ensures the applicant receives a patent that is per patent law and for only that which the applicant is entitled.

The patent examiner provides assistance and service to customers outside and inside the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. Examiners serve as judges on the patentability of inventions concerning the conditions for patentability outlined in the Title 35 of the U.S. Code.

They determine whether an application adequately defines the bounds and metes of the claimed invention. The scope of the claim is determined. Notices of Allowance or Abandonment are issued by patent examiners who ensure all pertinent procedural steps required to obtain a patent are in compliance with application prosecution.

Job Description of a Patent Examiner

Patent examiners ensure patent applications conform to requirements. Every application is investigated to determine if an invention is described clearly and used appropriately.

The examiner undertakes manual searches of earlier publications to establish the novelty of an invention. Patent examiners consider technical issues related to an invention.

The application, along with the search results, is published. Examiners produce search reports and send them to applicants and patent agents. Patent examiners act as liaison with applicants and agents in matters of dispute resolution. They follow appeals to the conclusion, which may be a court hearing.

Career progression occurs through a change in employment, promotion, or movement to patent attorney work. Patent offices employ patent examiners. Opportunities are advertised in scientific or technical publications, in newspapers, and online. Speculative applications are valuable. Patent offices typically keep a record of people who express interest in a position and inform them when vacancies become available.


The basic qualifications of a patent examiner include earning at least a Bachelor’s degree in science or engineering. Successful completion of a four-year course at an accredited university or college leads to a bachelor’s, or more advanced degree, that has specific course requirements or a major field of study in a variety of science and engineering disciplines.

The level of education determines placement on the pay scale. Bachelor’s degrees are the lowest level or grade for Patent Examiners. High GPA’s may place the potential examiner at a more advanced step. A Master’s degree will earn more for someone hired as a patent examiner. The starting pay of Ph.D.’s or those with extensive experience in the industry is higher still.

The USPTO sponsors an unpaid program for externs to gain patent experience. It offers volunteers the opportunity to learn what it is like to become a patent examiner. They gain first-hand knowledge of patent practice responsibilities and decision-making processes.

Background of Patent Examiners

The history of the patent examiner dates back to Thomas Jefferson. The Patent Act of 1790 required the attorney general, secretary of war, and the secretary of state to consider patent applications.

Jefferson served as Secretary of State and was an inventor. He had a leading role in patent application consideration.

A patent examiner today must be a U.S. citizen. Examiners are grouped into specialties. When a patent application is filed, a classification is assigned and randomly given to a patent examiner within the specified class.

Examination is the chief responsibility of the 8,000 currently employed patent examiners for the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office patent division. The ideas that are deemed clever, new, and useful enough to be patented are granted patent application.

An idea that is granted application becomes intellectual property. The idea is no longer available for a patent to anyone else who may think of it. The patent owner has exclusive rights, at least for a time. Currently, the time is 20 years.

Salaries of Patent Examiners

A Patent Examiner position ranked 37th in popularity in 2016 as a job in the U.S. Government. In 2016, patent examiners hired by the USPTO had a mean salary of $114,753.

Government Patent Examining salaries are classified under a General Schedule payscale. GS-6 is the minimum pay grade and GS-15 the highest pay grade attainable within the job series. The salaries listed on the pay scale are base scale. The actual salary may be higher based on the location of employment.


9 Tips On What To Wear To A Patent Law Job Interview

You’ve secured your first interview as a patent agent or patent attorney. The one most pressing question on your mind now, is what should you wear?

One thing that you should be told at law school is that, typically, the bigger the law firm is, the more conservative the attire should be. East coast patent law firms are among the most conservative. Companies that serve tech or creative clients tend to have a dress code that is slightly more relaxed. When in doubt, dress formally as what you wear is as important as the questions you answer when being interviewed for a position.

1.  What To Wear To An Interview Where You Know The Normal Dress Is Casual Dress

Many law firms and other major firms have started the company culture practice of casual dress at the office. Even if a patent law office that has granted you an interview allows casual dress in the workplace, business attire is still appropriate for an interview—with the dress code being a suit jacket and shoes.

Dressing in business attire, when interviewing with a firm that allows casual dress, may make a noticeable difference in comparison to another equally qualified candidate.

2. How You Want To Appear To A Potential Employer

A potential employer knows nothing about an applicant other than what is presented in the resume. First impressions are critical. You want the interviewer to see you in business mode, not laid back casual.

The interviewer needs to see you as a firm employee that will represent the best clients in meetings or court in an appropriate fashion. When you appear, in business attire, you show an interviewer that you know how to dress appropriately, when visiting clients or appearing in court. Dress the way you want the interviewer to see you.

3. Advice From An Attorney Who Does Employee Interviews

Harrison Barnes is the Managing Director of the Harrison Barnes PLC law firm. He lives in Malibu, CA where casual office attire is the norm. After being with a law firm for some time, and involved in recruitment, he categorizes people being interviewed as those dressed casually and those who are not. The majority of the time, those dressed casually did not get the job.

When associates would discuss a candidate’s potential hiring, the way they dressed was seldom part of the conversation. Instead, comments such as not seeming to take the job seriously were mentioned. Mr. Barnes believes the real reason those candidates are not hired is the way they dressed. His philosophy is appearance is important in an interview or a job.

4. Impressions Made With The Choice Of Attire

To act the part, one must look the part. Presentation affects how people relate to you. Construction workers change attire when purchasing a Rolls Royce. Poorly dressed people are probably not in a bank to ask for a big loan. A lawyer who walks into a courtroom poorly dressed will likely not be taken seriously.

All one has to do is think about the people working in previously held jobs to realize the best dressed were at the top of the food chain. Put yourself in the place of a client. Would you rather be represented by a well-dressed attorney or one dressed in a cheap, ill-fitting suit?

5. What Is Meant By Being Well-Dressed?

Potential employers and clients want the person representing them to reflect professionalism and esteem. It takes a lot of thought and effort to dress exquisitely. Therefore, shop diligently for clothes that best suit you. Pay attention to details such as the creases that appear in pants and the dry cleaners you use.

Clothes should be appropriately tailored. Purchase good quality shoes. They should be polished and the heels should not be worn down. There should be no scratches on a belt. Pantyhose should have no runs. Your slip should not show. Dress requirement lists for professionally dressed people can be quite lengthy.

6. Business Attire Is More Than The Clothes You Wear

Maybe the most important asset of a well-dressed individual is the self-confidence they exude. These individuals believe they are worth dressing the part. If you do not believe you look good, neither will anyone else. There are many things you cannot change when you go for an interview.

Examples include the law school you attended, who your parents are, where you were last employed, or whether you were fired from a job. Changing the way you dress is the easiest thing to change about yourself.

The way you present yourself is something you can control. You stand a better chance of getting hired over someone who graduated from an ivy league school with straight A’s if you look better than he or she does when you show up for the interview. Does it make sense? No, but that’s just how it is.

7. Dressing Specifically For A Patent Law Job Interview

Dressing in appropriate fashion may be more important for a patent law job interview than most any other type of profession. Mastering details is an essential skill needed by patent attorneys and patent agents alike. Let the attention to detail begin with the way you dress.

The time spent to look and dress flawlessly may be better than any book you could read or self-help seminar you could attend that advises about interviewing. Look professional by dressing in a conservative and well thought out manner. Dressing the part helps put your best foot forward with a potential employer.

8. Suggestions For Women

The appropriate attire for women has changed a great deal since the clothes considered to be suitable for women working in a law firm 20 or so years ago. At that time, the clothing more or less mirrored what male counterparts wore. The wardrobe consisted of a starched white shirt, a bow tie, and suit.

While changes have come about, attire for the legal industry is more conservative than the majority of other sectors. You do not want to make an impression because of the trendy leopard pumps or neon nail polish that you wore. A dark colored skirt suit, a light colored blouse, minimal jewelry, pantyhose, and pumps are a safe bet.

9. How To Plan For An Interview

The tailoring of a suit may be more important than the suit. Tailoring and dry cleaning should be at least a week before the interview in case something has to be redone. Plan what you will wear to an interview three or four days in advance. You do not want to discover the outfit you planned to wear is at the dry cleaners. Try the outfit on to make sure it is in perfect condition.

Your appearance should not detract from your presentation or resume. You want the interviewer to focus on what you say, not what you are wearing. Dress on the conservative side when interviewing with a big patent law firm. The goal is to reflect a candidate that is confident, hard-working, and intelligent.

9 Tips For Paying Off Student Loans Fast

College loans are the most significant obstacle that prevents millennials from investing. In 2016, the average student debt was over $37,000. That figure is an increase of a little of 6% in 2015. Financial planners and investment managers offer these tips for paying off student loans fast.

1. Consider The Loans As You Would A Mortgage

If possible, make more substantial payments that will reduce the principal faster. Look at the amortization schedule of the loan. A double payment saves the interest listed for the next month. Add up the interest of every other month for a rough idea of how much you will save. The actual amount will be more because each payment reduces the principal.

Therefore, more of the next payment goes toward the principal that was scheduled. By doing this instead of basing it on minimum payments via income-based repayments, the loan will be paid off in less than half the time. Another strategy that reduces the principal and the time it takes to pay off a loan is sending in half a payment every two weeks.

Some of the interest is reduced by paying two weeks early and you make 26 payments a year instead of 24. A ten-year loan is paid off in less than nine years. A student debt paid off generates other benefits. You have eliminated a debt and can now use that money for investment, buying a home, saving for retirement, or building a college fund for your children.

2. Make A Plan That Creates A Budget Designed To Reduce College Debt

The most effective method of reducing the deficit is to:

  • Plan ahead—student loan payments can be like a mortgage
  • Make sacrifices
  • Delay instant gratification
  • Focus on financial goals

Have a repayment plan goal in mind that includes what must be paid each month to reach it. The budget will likely involve cutting back on unnecessary expenses and possibly even making extra money to make extra payments. Any windfalls such as bonuses or a budget item that costs less than budgeted should be applied to the loan. Paying extra always results in less interest and a shorter pay off time.

Take stock of loan debt and formulate a plan. You must explicitly understand your student loan debt to devise a plan to pay it down. Access the loan service’s website to determine the total principal remaining and the interest rate of any loans. List all debt and add to find out how much is owed and to whom.

After landing a job after college, do not blow your money on a condo and a car. Immediately begin repaying student loans. Throw extra income toward debt reduction. A new salary may seem like a windfall and a means of improving your lifestyle.

3. Establish A Fund To Pay Off College Loans

Having money automatically deposited into a savings account is an efficient way to accumulate cash for college loan repayment. Money that you might have to spend on dining out or clothes is set aside to address the debt. The savings account should be separate from the savings or checking account that you might use for other things besides the student loan.

4. Pay Off Smallest Loans First

If you have more than one loan, make any extra payments you can afford on loans with the lowest balance. Paying off a loan early yields a feeling of success and serves as a motivator to continue tackling debt. Loans of an equal amount but different interest rates should be addressed in the order of highest interest rate.

5. Find A Part-Time Job While In College

This strategy generates money to help offset college loans. A student who can earn $1,000 each month, makes $12,000 per year that can replace money that needs to be borrowed.

6. After College, Be Willing To Work 50 To 65 Hours Per Week Instead Of A Traditional 40-Hour Week

Freelancing or working a part-time job in addition to a regular job brings extra income that can be used toward paying off student loans. Think about the money as additional debt funds not to be used for anything else.

7. Avoid Common Traps

Instant gratification is a compelling barrier to paying loans off faster. Many people find maintaining financial discipline to be a problematic hurdle. People who succeed are those who live within their means. Living as you did in college for a few more years will put you on the road to financial freedom sooner.

Having a plan usually, results in paying off debt faster than imagined. Get the basic shelter needed while you are in debt.You need something safe, warm, and clean. Sharing an apartment with someone or living with parents until you are financially stable will make money that is required for rent available to go toward your loans.

8. Avoid Consolidation Of Loans

Consolidating loans can simplify repayment to one monthly payment at one rate of interest. Juggling loan payments is a thing of the past. The choice to combine loans limits repayment strategies, such as paying off high-interest loans first or keeping federal loans in forbearance while aggressively paying private loans.

When you consolidate loans, there is little loan manipulation available. Some public student loans qualify for loan forgiveness. Those who are eligible and are working for a qualifying public service employer may eliminate established eligibility for loan forgiveness by consolidating.

9. Seek Help From A Reputable Adviser If You Have Large Loans Or A Complicated Loan History

Debt-relief agencies approach people who are heavily in debt with a one-size-fits-all approach that consolidates multiple loans and places them in an income-contingent repayment program. The agencies charge for their service. If you need help budgeting, seek advice from a credit union or financial adviser.

They give information based on a strategic borrowing and repayment plan that is geared to your circumstances. You want to get rid of student loan debt as soon as possible. It is unlikely that you will win the lottery. A plan is needed to prevent paying more interest than you have to. Implement some or all of the tips given here to pay back student loans faster and reduce the amount you owe.

Crush Your Patent Practitioner Interview

When it comes to landing the perfect job, there are a few rules that hold true for any industry. Naturally, the more specialized your focus, the more work you’ll need to put into your interview prep. If you’re aiming for a position as a patent agent or patent attorney, your prospective company will expect you to meet certain expectations from the moment you walk through the door. Like anything else in life, if you don’t nail it, there’s somebody else waiting in the wings.

To help you prepare for your upcoming patent agent or patent attorney interviews, take a look at these tips:


In some respects, all interview preparation requires the same legwork before interview day arrives. Law firms, technology transfer offices (TTOs), and universities are no different than other employers in that, they still expect you to bring your best self to the table.

Rely on Your Research Skills

While this may sound like a point so obvious it doesn’t need to be stated, the unfortunate fact is that many candidates arrive at interviews without performing their due diligence. Because your future patent job will rely extensively on research, it won’t bode well for you if you’re unable to answer some of the simplest questions your interviewer is likely to ask you.

It’s common for people to fall into a trap, thinking they’ve spent so much time in school and doing their own research that they’ll nail the interview based on their skills and background.

It’s equally as common for people to fail interviews because they aren’t able to answer the simplest of questions. Sure, your interview is about selling yourself, but your interviewer wants to know what you can do for them.

You need to be able to adjust your answers to suit their specific needs. If you haven’t done your research, your replies will sound canned, and you’ll look like you’re going for any job someone will hire you for.

In order to avoid that, follow these tips:

  • Learn about the partners or leaders in the organization.
  • Understand the company’s current successes and struggles. How would you contribute to getting a problematic project back on track?
  • Read reviews on Glassdoor, explore Martindale-Hubbell, and search for news releases and industry publications that will tell you more about the company’s culture and values. How do their goals align with your own?
  • Subscribe to industry publications. If you can easily talk about industry trends, problems competitors are facing, and current events, you’ll give yourself a leg up on the competition.


Networking doesn’t happen over night, so it’s best to begin this part of your journey as soon as possible. If you’ve recently left a job in good standing, reach out to your former supervisors for letters of recommendation. If you’re just beginning your patent career, or if you don’t have stellar references from past employers, look toward LinkedIn.

  • Connect with those employees with whom you had a positive working relationship at prior employers.
  • Look for shared connections with people you know, and ask for introductions.
  • Reach out to people who hold the same or similar position at the company with which you’ll be interviewing. If they accept, start a conversation. Ask for insights about company culture or tips for completing a successful interview with the person or people with whom you’ll be speaking.
  • Join patent law groups where you can learn from other industry professionals and foster meaningful relationships. Groups specifically geared toward patent attorneys and patent agents are great places to connect with people and information that could bolster your career.


We no longer live in a world where you can expect to sit across the desk from the hiring manager, tell him or her about yourself, and get an offer letter in a few days. While that certainly does happen on occasion, interviewers have gotten far more creative in recent years.

Loyola University’s School of Law did a great job outlining some of the pros and cons of various legal interviewers’ styles. If you’re not prepared for any and all of them, you may find yourself in a situation wrought with embarrassing silence.

Here’s a look at some types of interviews you may encounter:

Structured Interviews

You might consider this the traditional interview style. In this situation, you may encounter an ice-breaker question about your drive or the weather — a question unrelated to the interview that’s just enough to settle you into your seat. He or she will likely tell you a little bit about the company and the specific position for which you’ve applied. Then he or she will hand the reigns over to you, and it will become your job to intertwine your experience with anything he or she just said.

It is imperative to listen closely and develop responses in your head as your interviewer is speaking. The more you’re able to customize your responses, the better impression you’ll leave on that person. When the interview is finished, expect to be asked if you have questions.

You should always have questions! Rehearse a series of questions long in advance of your interview, and even if your interviewer answers them as you go, ask him or her to expound upon them when the appropriate time comes.

Stress Interviews

As a patent professional, you may find yourself facing a stress interview. These interviews are designed to measure your demeanor during certain situations. This allows the interviewer to gauge how you handle stress and how you interact with others when things aren’t exactly going as planned. He or she may become distracted, appear indifferent to you, or engage in conversation that’s contrary to something he or she has already said.

Stress interviews are also known to include strange questions that are seemingly irrelevant to the position at play. If your interviewer goes this route, there’s really no way to prepare for the specific questions, as nothing is off the table, but if you can confidently explain your logic and articulately verbalize your take on the situation, you’ll make an impact on your interviewer. Typically, there are no correct answers to these questions.

It is imperative to stay focused and calm. Remember, this type of interview isn’t an accident, and the company is waiting to see how you react.

Behavioral Interviews

Behavioral interviews are among the most commonly administered interviews these days. The goal is to help the interviewer learn more about your past behavior so he or she can determine how your actions might impact his or her own firm in the future. To adequately answer these questions, you must be prepared to honestly discuss your past experiences. Call upon the S.T.A.R. method of interviewing, which employs the following aspects:

  • Situation – Describe the event or situation using specific details; do not generalize.
  • Task – Tell the interviewer about the goal you were trying to accomplish.
  • Action – This is when personal pronouns are important. What did you do to accomplish your goals? What role did you play to help your company succeed? In a behavioral interview, the word “I” is more important than the word “we.”
  • Result – Describe the outcome of the project, and take credit for your work where credit is due. Be sure to explain what you learned from the experience, as that will show your prospective employer you’re looking for ways to grow and better yourself as an employee.

In the end, every successful interview begins with great research. The more you know about the company for which you’re interviewing, the more confident you’ll be when you’re selling yourself to potential employers. While it’s true that a solid job search is often a job in and of itself, you’ll reap great rewards if you put in the work. An exciting career in patent law awaits you on the other side of your interview journey!

About the Author

Kristin B. is a professional content writer who focuses on human resource-related content. After a tedious job-search journey a few years ago, she employs her lessons learned to make the job quest easier for others.

Top 5 Job Interview Tips Articles on the Web

The sweaty brow. The shaky palms. Everything about an in-person interview for a dream job screams nervousness, but it doesn’t have to be that way if you come prepared.

Knowing the basics of a job interview, especially for something as distinguished as patent law, will ease your nerves and allow you to sail right through the interview process. And, knowing a few key tips will take the experience from easy to impeccable.

In order to get the job interview and the job you want, take advantage of the scores of job interview tips on the Internet. To help you get started, you need to consider many areas for job interview preparation such as making eye contact with your potential employer, body language that shows your strengths and skills, a firm handshake, and making sure you communicate that you are the person they are looking for to fill that all-important position.

Below are some of the most insightful job interview articles for upcoming patent lawyers.

1) Questions You Should Be Prepared to Answer |

This article provides over 80 questions you should know the answer to as you’re likely to be asked one of these in a job interview. Included is the dreaded “Tell me about yourself,” which is the question we often forget about but are nailed by every time we’re asked it. Form a response to most of these and you should be good to go.

Some other questions included:

  • Who is your hero/heroine?
  • Why did you choose law?
  • What constitutes success in your mind?
  • Is there any crime you would have trouble defending?
  • Why did you go to law school? Have your goals changed since then?
  • Why should we select you over all the other candidates?
  • Where do you see yourself in 5 (or 10) years?
  • Who was your favorite professor in law school? Why?

2) Interviewing Tips (from Yale Law School) |

Yale is right up there with Harvard for being one of the best law schools in America. This article shows you just how great their breadth of knowledge is when it comes to interviewing skills.

Topics covered range from the types of interviews you may experience down to what you should wear and everything in between. With a name like Yale, you know the information they provide will be nothing less than high-quality and immensely beneficial.

3) How to Excel at Law Firm Interviews |

Coming from a website called, you can find some great legal interview tips in this article. It describes a hypothetical scenario most graduates of law school may experience, in which they are ecstatic to be offered law job interviews only to be crushed when they aren’t ultimately offered the job. The article then discusses how one may break the cycle and finally get hired.

  • Be prepared and read up on what the company offers. A good quote from this article is “…your level of preparation will determine how successful you are…” so don’t undermine your own success by being unprepared.
  • Know the importance of the screening interview. At the screening stage, you’re in the preliminary step the firm takes in ensuring the candidate is mature and able to handle the responsibilities of the job. Though not a definitive yes or no phase, making a good first impression is crucial to going forward in the interviewing process and ultimately getting the job. Don’t take the screening interview lightly.
  • Show enthusiasm no matter what. This one comes down to plain psychology. Even if you’re having a terrible day prior to the interview, you can’t let the interviewer know that. They’re looking for the spark that sets you apart from the other job candidates and someone who should be fine representing their company when talking to the press or higher-ups in other firms. Negativity or a lack of self-confidence during the interview process means a giant red “X” over the possibility of you getting that job.

4) Interview Tips from the Interviewers |

This is advice for entry level attorneys, especially recent law grads who don’t have a lot of experience interviewing. The tips come from Washington D.C. law firm attorneys and recruiting managers, so you know these are solid nuggets of wisdom.

  • “The best attorneys are good researchers. You should research each attorney you are meeting. I will never forget a litigator who took the time to read a recent opinion on which I was listed as the attorney of record. I wanted him on my team.”
  • “Be polite and courteous to support staff such as secretaries, front desk receptionist, etc. They often have the ear of decision makers and will not hesitate to provide informal feedback to you, especially if you are not respectful.”
  • “If an interviewer initiates a debate on a legal issue, don’t get too passionate and heated about defending your position. Remain calm, composed, and focus on making logical sense.”
  • “The more you are relaxed and at ease, the more the interviewer will be relaxed and at ease.”

5) Preparing for the Most Common Types of Law Firm Interviewers |

Many of us agonize over how we will perform in interviews, but what about the interviewer? We often don’t think of the ways an interviewer will behave, but this article from the Loyola University Chicago describes just that.

In general, you can meet these types of interviewers, the questions they may ask, and the pros and cons for each interviewer. For example:

  • The trained interviewer. They have been trained in effective interviewing strategies and will ask questions to get to the heart of specific issues important to the firm. They will focus on asking behavioral questions, so to answer them effectively think about excellent experiences in previous jobs or school activities, challenges you faced, mistakes you made and how you corrected them, and times you’ve worked overtime, among other things. The good thing about this interviewer is that, if you prepare sufficiently, you can really shine because of the expected questions. However, if you don’t prepare thoroughly enough you can feel like you’ve been put on the spot.
  • The aggressive interviewer. This person will take on an adversarial tone with the candidate just to see how they respond. With this type of interviewer, it’s always best to remain calm and professional, taking it as a lesson in maturity. However, if you’re caught off-guard by their intensity it may be hard to recover your shaken confidence.

There you have it, some of the best articles from the highest-ranked law bodies in the US. Take the advice contained within these interviews to heart and we’re hoping you’ll land your dream patent agent or patent attorney job in no time.